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26 Dec, 2023 23:23

War in Gaza to drag on for ‘many more months’ – IDF

Israel’s military chief has warned of a long process to thoroughly dismantle Hamas
War in Gaza to drag on for ‘many more months’ – IDF

Israel’s top military commander has warned that the war in Gaza will likely drag on for “many more months” because a long and determined fight will be required to completely destroy the Palestinian militant group Hamas and prevent it from quickly becoming a threat again.

“There are no magic solutions,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi told reporters on Tuesday. He added, “There are no shortcuts when it comes to thoroughly dismantling a terrorist organization, except being stubborn and determined in the fighting.”

Halevi’s comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the war with Hamas was “not close to being over.” Netanyahu reiterated that Hamas must be destroyed before the fighting can stop, adding that Gaza must be “demilitarized” and Palestinian society “deradicalized” to create conditions for a lasting peace.

Nearly 21,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began on October 7, according to local health officials. Hamas triggered the conflict by launching surprise attacks on southern Israel, killing more than 1,100 people including almost 700 Israeli civilians and 71 foreigners, as well as taking hundreds of hostages.

Halevi said the IDF is expanding its operations in central and southern Gaza after dismantling most of the Hamas battalions in the northern part of the Palestinian enclave. “We eliminated many terrorists and commanders,” he said. “Some of them surrendered to our forces, and we took hundreds of prisoners. We destroyed many underground infrastructures and weapons.”

The IDF chief acknowledged that given that the area is dense and urban, there are probably more Hamas fighters hidden in northern Gaza. He vowed that the Israeli military would not allow security conditions to slide back to pre-October 7 levels, putting citizens at risk of a repeat of the Hamas attacks.

“This war has necessary and not easy goals to achieve,” he said. “It takes place in complex territory. That’s why the war will continue for many more months, and we will work with different methods, so that the achievement will be maintained for a long time.”

Multiple countries, including Russia and China, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, have called for an immediate ceasefire. Israel and its primary ally the US, however, argue that a ceasefire right now would only benefit Hamas.